The second wave of COVID-19 created a much more severe impact. Will the festive season ad spends and sentiments take a backseat as an effect? Social Samosa finds out...
Last year the festive season marked a point of revival. Soon the second wave hit the country, creating a much more severe impact. With the onset of this festive season and gradual Unlock 2.0, there are positive sentiments and buoyant expectations thriving to recur the losses, share our experts. Chintan Soni, VP- Digital Products/Performance, Madison, Navonil Chatterjee, Joint President, and CSO, Rediffusion, Pankaj Jain, Partner Director, Native, India & SEA, Httpool shed some light on the marketing trends, AdSpends movement, and consumer sentiments.
The Second Wave Impact - AdSpends
According to Navonil Chatterjee, the total consumer spending in 2021 will grow by 9.1% while it contracted by 9.3% last year. Some of the categories like durables, smartphones, and auto are projecting almost 30%-35% growth in the festive season. Another category that is promoting growth is the travel & trade industry, seeing a 35% uptake.
"With vaccination, there is a little bit of safety and people are excited to come out and shop. Consumer confidence and revenge shopping are back. People will spend depending on the category and the volume of cash," he briefs.
Commenting on the impact of the second wave, Chintan Soni highlights that the service category where actual logistical issues took place, saw a dip during the lockdown. However, when relaxations took place, it witnessed a double-digit recovery in the spends. He adds, "So whatever we had lost during the lull period, we surpassed it by recovering 10-15%."
Pankaj Jain points out that multinational brands did not want to be in media during the time, or in news or seen around because the sentiments were highly negative during the second wave.
"During this time brands tend to shy away. But at the same time, they were connecting with their consumers in an emotional manner through conversations related to the pandemic and COVID-19 on social media. I tag it as the Sonu Sood impact where everybody wanted to lend a helping hand. In the mid-market segments, you will see a surge.," he adds.
This is a good time for brands not going out for sales but for market share because what the pandemic did is create a vacuum. Soni observes that in every category, we usually see new players coming up. But because of this vacuum, there is no new player in the market and the existing ones stand a chance to expand their foothold, making it a good time for them to spend.
"No matter how smart we become it's always temporary. Marketing will override your need and you will always drive towards your wants. If you have money in your pocket, especially with globalization, you are going to be bombarded with ads," Jain opines.
On the other hand, if we talk about the impact of influencer marketing, the industry itself in India is bigger than the native ad networks which put together is close to 200 million. COVID-19 triggered the focus on personalization, he notes. "It’s important for brands to be present. There will definitely be an upsurge in ad spends but in specific categories only."
The whole definition of the lean season, the off-season is going to change, according to Chatterjee. Now lockdown is the lean season.
The moment the lockdown is lifted, you go back to the vengeance. It may have been traditionally off-season but now becomes the peak season for the consumer to come out and shop.
"What happens if festive becomes a lockdown? At least when people are going out, we know that one sense of touch is phenomenal and which we have lost because of the lockdown. But the moment we get it back, it will become a rage again- not in a literal sense but when you are going out to shop, in that the sense of touch is very important," he explains.
Therefore it makes sense to spend where the consumers at least have the means to go out and buy. It is also the sense of pragmatism that will drive marketing at one level.
"The biggest trend which is happening is – Postalgia. Which means dreaming of times of the past that you wish to come back soon (for example: being able to go out for a cup of coffee or trying on outfits in the trial room of a shop). If you look at it all brands who are coming back to advertising – postalgia is going to drive a lot of advertising spends," he adds.
Narrative or Brand recall - The Purpose Of Purpose Drive Ads?
'Joy of giving' has become a common theme of festive campaigns where the narrative becomes the hero but the brand recall is somewhere lost. The consumers tend to remember a story, but don’t necessarily remember which brand created that campaign.
When such common themes emerge, how do brands and agencies stand out and create a change on-ground, actually paying it forward?
Soni shares, "The second waves’ impact has been worse. People have lost their near and dear ones. So if we can do something which touches the sentiments, it helps the brand get the uplift. Last year for one of our client’s Onam campaigns we designed, was around asking consumers to design their own poklam (rangoli) and show support towards the community of nurses who have been giving unconditional support during these tough times."
When the team looked at the conversion rate that is the number of people visiting your site and submitting their entries, it witnessed 2-2.2.5X growth. "the reason for that was it had certain sentiments and a cause attached to it," he adds.
Meanwhile, Jain says that we will see a lot more responsible content pieces coming out. "We have seen the worst of COVID-19. Now we all want to find ways to bring joy to our lives. And this is what the brands will be doing a lot. Common themes will be masks in ad commercials, social distancing, and subtle ways of reminding people that COVID-19 is still around. But you will still see that empathy in the communication," he asserts.
Even the government would want brands to come up with positive sentiments because that’s the best way to change the mindset. More than the brands, Jain thinks that the agencies are going to play a very big role.
On the other hand, Chatterjee asks brands to forget all things nice for sometimes, be naughty and mischievous, maybe crack a joke to stand out and create communication that clicks.
He says further, "The festive season doesn’t mean that only heart-tugging will make me feel good; festive season is also the time to enjoy. We live in Kalyug and it’s all kinds of evil. But somehow when it comes to marketing and advertising we all want to become is goody two shoes. What a Burger King still does and gets away with McDonald’s is the kind of play that interests me."
For Chatterjee, as long as the brands stay true to their essence and core and do advertising pertaining to that, that’s great content.
The experts shared their thoughts at the Voot Presents India’s Best Marketers & Planners Summit.